Driving From North Mississippi in 2017, Jack Has Arrived in South Alabama
We just passed a majestic towering… r—rococo rest area, resplendent with every convenience. I didn’t stop there but it looks like a castle! That’s the first thing you see when you cross over into Alabama. It’s like sayin’, “That’s right, Mississippi.” [Laughter.] “No more peein’ in the woods!” [Laughter.] Uhhhhaaauhhhh! “It’s time to pee like a king!” Except, as my friend Adam told me, uhhhhh, in Versailles they just sat at the table and would pee, or they’d run—just pee while they walked, pee in the yard… they didn’t care. I looked it up. They did have toilets of a sort. Uhh… at Versailles. But, you know, it was a big place.
But anyway, you’re peein’, you’re just peein’, you’re peein’ in a piece of history, baby! When you pee at the Alabama rest stop. You’re peeing in… you’re peeing in… Frank Lloyd Wright’s nightmare.
I’m a little, uh, uhhhhhhrrrhh… giddy from… listening to commercial radio for [short laugh] six hours. I did hear an R&B song that I totally endorse where a guy says he’s in the mood to party, so he wants some French fries. And I thought, “That’s a reasonable request.”
The, uh, the highway is the last bastion of the Wild West! People don’t care about the, the speed limit at all! Speed limit means nothing out on the highways of Mississippi! And if you see a sign that says “Please Don’t Litter,” you better believe there’s gonna be a big bag of trash next to it, because… Mississippi is like, “Fuck…” Oohh! Pardon my language. But… you know what they say to signs [laughter] that tell ‘em to do things. “You tellin’ me to do a thing? I’ll do the opposite of the thing!”
That’s not—oh! Here comes the sheriff. No, he’s just kinda parked there, waitin’ to catch… nab somebody for bein’ bad.
He didn’t get me.
But anyway, I think it’s legal, or so my mother tells me… it’s legal to talk on the… talk on your cellphone while you drive around in Alabama. They don’t care. They [laughter] encourage it! [Laughter.] “People of Alabama!” Uh… “Please talk more on your phones while you drive. We encourage open communication, as the state of Alabama always has, and will continue to do.” [Lip smack.]
(Time Has Passed… Jack Begins the Drive Back Home)
Here we are! Back in beautiful… beautiful downtown Grand Bay, Alabama. There’s the Walgreen’s pharmacy to your left.
And coming up on your left, the CVS pharmacy. They call it “The City of Pharmacies.” [Very short laugh.]
I worry about my mom and dad, uhhh…
They live on a highway where no one ever—I mean that’s not why I worry about them. They live on a highway where people just zoom past. It’s not a place anybody’s gonna stop… except for perhaps a miscreant! And that’s not likely. But it is out in the middle of nowhere. And they don’t… their security system is curious.
Look at this guy in his big rig. He’s gonna come up right behind me and show me who’s boss. Although the color of the rig is, is lovely. It’s kind of a butternut squash. Or…
One might say.
You know what? I’m gonna… I’m gonna go faster than him and he’ll see who’s number one now! That’s not the way you’re supposed to drive!
[Lip smack.] Oh, yes. But anyway, so they… the dog… my parents have this wonderful, sweet dog. Such a, such a very lovely, gigantic, uh… sad-faced… monster.
Oh, here comes a truck filled with deadly fluid of some kind.
“Welcome to Mississippi… Birthplace of America’s Music.”
I’d say that’s… fairly true.
[Road roar and whistle.]
Chuck Berry died during my… stay. He’s not from Mississippi, but… that led me to thoughts of Chess Records and whatnot.
Well, my parents have this dog. So he—and when he was very young he used to chew up everything. He… he… he literally, and I use that word in all… uh… full confidence! He literally…
Let’s take a look at this Mississippi rest area and see how it—uhhhhhh, not palatial. Not palatial. Mm! Eh. It’s nothing compared to the Alabama rest area.
Oh, the two rival rest areas. There’s a novel.
There’s a novel for ya! Put that one in the bank.
Anyway, this dog… when it first… he was a rescue dog, and when they first got him, he chewed up everything if they left him alone, because he got nervous and upset. He literally…
Passing over the Escatawba River.
Uh, we can’t see the river for the trees. I’m sure the river’s down there somewhere, because this is a long bridge. It would be a shame to build it over a river that wasn’t there.
This dog chewed up a, a metal filing cabinet. He practically ate a small metal filing cabinet, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.
And, d-uh, so they finally figured out that to make him happy, they could—they installed a dog door so he could go out in the fenced portion of the backyard if he got too rambunctious. It made him much happier. He didn’t chew things up. But that means they have to leave the back door, uh… well, not… there’s the dog door that leads from the yard onto the back porch, and then there’s, of course, another door that leads into the house from the back porch. So they would leave that door open so the dog could come and go as he pleased from the yard to the house. And that means that, uhh… well, I’ll just say this about the dog door: the dog door is large enough to accommodate the dog. [Laughter.] Who is very large. So what I’m saying is… uh… some kinda guy who’s all, uh, strung out on meth, if I understand my… uhh… I didn’t watch Breaking Bad, really. I watched the last… I don’t know, four episodes, and then randomly a few others.
But if I understand it correctly, people who are addicted to meth, for example… are skinny!
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.